Spelling more trouble for Maharashtra Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse, the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) confirmed today that it had acquired the three-acre plot in Bhosari near Pune in 1971 and allotted it to a clutch of companies. This plot was reportedly bought by Khadse’s wife and son-in-law from the original owner, Abbas Ukani, in April this year.
The Indian Express has also learnt that days before Khadse’s family bought the plot, senior state government officials had apprised the Minister of this fact. Indeed, at a meeting with officials from the industries and revenue departments in April, Khadse was “advised” that MIDC’s name was recorded in the “other rights” of the 7/12 extract of the plot, sources said.
A 7/12 extract is one of the basic revenue documents of title, serving as an evidence of ownership of the land it represents.
Entries in the 7/12 extract’s “other rights” column give details of all encumbrances on the land. “MIDC’s name has been there as a party having ‘other rights’ on the 7/12 extract of the plot for at least six years now,” said a senior officer.
Moreover, officials said Khadse was also told of the various companies — 14 in all — that had been allotted portions of the plot. “Some of these allotments were made as early as 1985 and there are agreements of allotments between MIDC and the respective companies. Most have also set up their units,”
Khadse denied that he was informed about the allotments.
“MIDC’s name was mentioned in the ‘other rights’ only in 2010, and as per law the owner has to be notified about it. The owner was never notified. Also, there is no prohibition on any sale or transfer of land as per law even if there are any ‘other rights’ mentioned.”
As for the allotments, the minister, who also holds the agriculture, relief and rehabilitation and minority affairs portfolios, said when the acquisition had not been completed, and the title was still vested with the previous owner, there was no question of MIDC allotting it to any companies.
According to records reviewed by The Indian Express, Khadse’s wife, Mandakini, and son-in-law, Girish Chaudhari, purchased the land from Abbas Ukani on April 27 for Rs 3.75 crore. The market value of the plot is estimated to be at least Rs 23 crore, going by current ready reckoner rates.
Official documents show that the MIDC had earmarked the plot in concern for acquisition in 1968 with the state government having issued a final notification for the acquisition on November 11, 1971. However, despite issuing a final acquisition notice, the procedure of compensating the owner, Ukani, was not completed, and 7/12 records continued to show his name as a title owner, officials say.
It was only in 2010 when Ukani published a notice in a newspaper intending to sell the Bhosari plot that the MIDC got in touch with the Tehsildar of Haveli taluka, under which Bhosari falls, to get its name registered in the ‘other rights’ of the 7/12 document.
The owner, Ukani, has been corresponding with the MIDC demanding compensation for the plot as per the new Land Acquisition Act of 2013, and has also filed a petition in the Bombay High Court regarding the same.
MIDC regional manager Sujata Kulkarni confirmed that MIDC had acquired the land under Section 32 (1) of the MIDC Act, 1961.
She said that after the acquisition, MIDC divided the 3-acre land into 15 plots. “Of these, 14 plots were handed over to industrialists on a 95-year lease. One of the plots was handed over to the civic body,” she said. The plots were handed over between 1983 and 1987.
Asked about Khadse’s family buying the land, Kulkarni said: “The land belonged to MIDC and, therefore, any deal on it was not legal.”
However, Uday Bhosale, land acquisition officer, said: “The final land acquisition has not happened as we do not have possession receipts or the payment of compensation receipts to the owner.”
But Kulkarni said that the land possession receipt was available in MIDC records.
Meanwhile, the industries located on the three-acre plot expressed surprise that the land has been sold to Khadse’s family. “Yes, I read in the papers that the land where my industrial unit is located has been sold to the minister. But I bought the land three decades ago, through a tripartite agreement which also involved the MIDC. I got it on a 99-year lease,” said Pardeep Sargil, who runs NSC Industries on a 600-sq-metre plot.
Another industrialist, Rahul J, who has taken two 1000 sq metre plots on lease from MIDC, said, “I was surprised about all this controversy… We have nothing to do with it.”
Maruti Bhapkar of Swaraj Abhiyan alleged that Khadse bought the land cheap so that he could take advantage of the new Land Acquisition Act and sell it for a much higher price.
BJP leader Sarang Kamtekar, who heads the party’s “policy making” team in Pimpri-Chinchwad-Bhosari area, defended Khadse. “Nobody is trying to understand the legal position in this case. There are thousands of properties caught in litigation in Maharashtra. The seller disposes of the property as he is not able to resolve the legal issues pending in court despite waiting for years. The Khadse family was well within its rights to purchase the property,” he said.